Shingles and Pregnancy

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You won’t harm your baby if you have shingles during pregnancy. The reason is probably because you are already immune to the virus and that protection is passed on to your blossoming baby. Shingles are caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox- the varicella-zoster virus. It usually appears as a painful rash of tiny blisters on your legs, arms or body. Sometimes people refer to it as herpes zoster; however, it is not the same thing as genital herpes. 

You can’t contact shingles from anyone else. The shingles virus is probably already in your body from when you had chickenpox when you were young. It has the ability to lie dormant for years, reactivating later in your life as the painful shingles rash. 

Although you can't transmit shingles, you can definitely pass the virus on as chickenpox. While shingles are considerably harmless in pregnancy, chicken pox can cause different sort of problem for an unborn child. It is, therefore, necessary to stay away from other pregnant women while you are still dealing with an outbreak of shingles. It is important you wait until the lesions on the skin are healed, most especially if the outbreak is on the part of your body that is not covered by clothes.  

You need to talk to you doctor right away when you think you may have shingles, this is especially necessary if you have a rash on your face or head. The doctor may have to examine it to confirm it is not affecting your eye. 

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Shingles obviously has no cure. However, there are vaccines but they are mainly for the elderly, and you 

should not have this jab during pregnancy. Though treatment with antiviral medication may offer some relief from the symptoms, these medications work best if they are taken immediately after the symptoms starts.  Your doctor may want to talk to a specialist to help decide if the benefits of anti-viral medicals outweigh any possible risk to your unborn child.  

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Your doctor may also recommend the following treatment to ease the symptoms:

•    Rub some calamine lotion on the rash to soothe any itching

•    Take paracetamol to relieve any pain from the rash

•    Keep the rash clean and dry, and wear loose clothing

Be rest assured that once you have had shingles it doesn't usually come back again.

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